Vermilion County Master Gardeners will present their 19th annual Garden Walk June 9 from noon-5 p.m. featuring eight gardens.
Tickets are $10 and available for purchase at the Vermilion County Extension Office in Danville (3164 North Vermilion, 217-442-8615), Berry’s Garden Center, Big R in Danville and Tilton, Danville Gardens North and main store on Cleary Ave. Tickets will also be available at Douglas Discovery Garden on the day of the walk. Proceeds from the Garden Walk fund Master Gardener involvement and educational programs with veterans, children and community donation gardens in Vermilion County.
The walk begins in Perrysville, Ind., with Master Gardener, Jerry Trosper and Master Gardener Intern, Audrey Rowe. They have created a small botanical garden with raised beds, a pond and orchard including unusual specimens like persimmon, nectarine, pawpaw, and quince, along with currants, blueberry, honeyberry, and gooseberry. There is also a wide assortment of annuals, perennials and vegetables, many of which are started from seed in the couple’s private greenhouse.
Jeff and Julie Turner were drawn to the privacy their property offers while enjoying the convenience of being located in town. The theme ‘A River Runs Thru It’ describes their view of the Vermilion River as well as a small stream that connects two ponds. Water is the focal point of this garden with shade plants like hosta and ivy along with some unique specimens. Ornamental pines twist around the water adding a unique look to the landscape.
Lucille Butler’s garden began in 1995 but will never truly be completed because she is always adding new plants that represent loved ones. A pond on the hillside spirals down into the backyard. There is a vegetable garden as well as a large variety of annuals and perennials for attendees to enjoy. Look for signs to neighborhood bonus gardens on Cleveland Street.
Ivan and Connie Ford have enjoyed gardening for over 30 years. Ivan is creative using tree stumps and tractor tires as flower beds. There are hand-made flower boxes with multi-colored annuals. They always make room for the vegetable garden filled with green beans, potatoes, onions, radishes, and peppers. Visitors will want to ask Ivan about his special method for planting tomatoes.
In addition to the private homes on the walk, ticket holders will have a unique opportunity to walk through gardens that are rarely or never open to the public. The DACC Land Lab-Sustainable Farm supports research and allows staff and students to explore different styles of agriculture like the prairie restoration, perennials, permaculture, and vegetable production. In addition to plants, there are bee hives, chickens, and native wildlife such as bluebirds and hawks.
Master Gardener, Rhonda Ruhnow, calls the VA Healing Garden, “The Best Kept Secret at the VA”. The area was once a gravel service drive but is now a sanctuary for our heroes and their visitors. At the entrance, attendees will find raised beds with vegetables and herbs residents help plant and maintain. A walkway meanders past unique trees and shrubs like Wolf’s Eye dogwood, Japanese maple, purple smoke bush and a weeping birch. Perennials like Argentinian Salvia, Jack Frost Brunera, Centaurea Mountain Bluet, and clematis provide 3 seasons of color. There is a picnic area, putting green, shuffleboard, basketball hoop and gazebo.
The VA Greenhouse was built in the 1900’s with organic horticulture practices. Master Gardeners have been active here for many years donating and propagating most of the plants. They help maintain about 40 large containers that are overwintered in the greenhouse each year and enhance the grounds in summer. Veterans who visit the greenhouse are allowed to choose from a variety of plants. There are mature banana trees in the greenhouse along with a ‘Bird of Paradise’. Look for the new POW garden and a special garden for pollinators near the fountain.
Douglas Discovery Garden is another great place to start the walk and will have tickets for sale. It is located at the corner of Wayne and Florida in Danville. DDG was formed by the community to transform the 2.5 acres that was once Douglas School into a garden that would educate and serve local residents. The committee has designed, planted and maintained the landscape with numerous raised vegetable beds where Master Gardeners teach local school children gardening classes. There is an herb garden, large perennial flower beds, a pergola, shade and fruit trees, grape vines and innovative methods like keyhole gardens and a gravel bed to grow bare root trees. You may purchase a Garden Walk ticket at DDG but there is no fee to enjoy their festival with food, antique cars. Dulcimer musicians, activities with herbs, antiques and garden themed vendors from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Each year, the University of Illinois sponsors the Vermilion County Garden Walk through its Master Gardener program. Homeowners and Master Gardeners have spent months preparing for this year’s event, which will showcase unique gardens that are private the other 364 days of the year.
University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Vermilion County office 217-442-8615. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting your access needs.